The Dogue de Bordeaux is one of the most ancient breeds native to France. They were originally bred to hunt large animals and were often used as fighting dogs. They are impressive dogs with very large, distinctive heads and although they are such big dogs, they are extremely agile and quick on their feet, being more than capable of jumping great heights.
Their intimidating looks belie a gentle and affectionate character that in the right hands and with the correct sort of training and early socialisation, is a wonderful dog to have around the home which is why they are such a popular choice in their native France and why they are gaining popularity elsewhere in the world including here in the UK.
Affectionately known as the Dogue, the breed is one of the most ancient native to France that during the 20th century struggled to survive. Fortunately, thanks to a loyal fan base, the breed did not vanish altogether and is now gaining in popularity outside of their native France.
They were bred to hunt large animals, but they were also used as fighting dog. Similar type dogs can be traced as far back as the 14th century. They are thought to be direct descendants of the Molossus of Rome and were commonly seen working on estates during the 12th century where they hunted boar, wolves, wild pig and bears. During the middle ages these dogs were used to drive cattle to market and in wartimes they were commonly used to guard flocks of livestock.
The breed was first exhibited in France in 1863 after which time they gained in popularity not only in their home country but in other parts of the world which included here in the UK. The breed was officially recognised by The Kennel Club in 1997 and today the number of dogs being registered is continuing to rise.
Height at the withers: Males 60 – 69cm, Females 58 – 66 cm
Average weight: Males 68 kg, Females 57 kg
The Dogue de Bordeaux is a powerful looking dog that boasts a muscular body. Although quite heavy, they are athletic dogs capable of covering a lot of ground when needed. Their most distinguishing feature is their large, broad head and quite serious and ferocious expression. The top of their head is slightly rounded and boasts having a pronounced stop as well as a distinct median groove. They have quite prominent foreheads which adds to their forbidding appearance.
Dogues have furrows and wrinkles on their faces and quite prominent, well-muscled cheeks. Muzzles are powerful and short being slightly hollowed under a dog's eyes and having a moderate amount of folds. The topline of a dog's muzzle is ever so slightly turned up and their nostrils are broad and nicely opened being pigmented to match a dog's mask.
Their jaws are extremely powerful and broad with their lower jaw curving upwards. Chins are well defined with dogs having a thick upper flew that's quite pendulous when seen in profile. Viewed from the front they have a distinct V where their upper lips meet their lower ones. Eyes are oval in shape and set wide apart on a dog's face. They have a frank expression about them and eye colour can be anything from hazel to dark brown according to a dog's coat colour.
Ears are quite small and slightly darker than a dog's coat colour. Their ears fall forward with the front edge touching a dog's cheek when they are alert or excited. Tips are slightly rounded and ears are set high on a dog's head. They have undershot jaws, but their teeth cannot be seen when a dog's mouth is closed.
Necks are well-muscled and strong with the skin around it being supple, firm and loose. A well-defined dewlap starts at a dog's throat and forms folds down their forechest adding to the appearance of strength and power. Their neck is a lot broader at the base but merges smoothly to a dog's well laid back shoulders. Withers are well defined with front legs being straight, strong and extremely well-muscled.
They boast very broad, deep and powerful chests which are well let down to a dog's elbows. Ribs are well sprung and their back is broad and muscular with a straight topline and bellies that are slightly tucked up. Loins are broad, solid and a little short with dogs having a moderately sloping croup to where the tail is set.
Back legs are muscular and extremely strong with well-developed second thighs. Their feet are strong with tight toes and strong, curved nails. Pads are supple and well-developed with dogs standing well up on their toes. Their back feet are slightly longer than their front ones. Their tails are thicker at the root and dogs carry them low although when excited or alert, they carry them raised.
When it comes to their coat, the Dogue de Bordeaux boasts having a short, fine coat that's soft to the touch. Their skin is loose fitting and thick but without too many folds or wrinkles. Accepted coat colours for the breed include the following:
Three mask colours allowed in the Dogue de Bordeaux which are as follows:
The Dogue de Bordeaux may be an impressive and intimidating looking dog, but in the right hands, they are known to be affectionate and loyal characters that thrive being in a family environment. Males tend to be more dominant than their female counterparts, but again with the right sort of handling and early socialisation, this type of behaviour can be successfully controlled.
The Dogue is not the best choice for first time owners because they do a lot better when handled and trained by people who are familiar with the breed and therefore know just what it takes to look after and care for this type of very large and impressive dog. They are extremely intelligent and therefore need to be handled fairly, yet firmly so they understand who is the alpha dog in a household. These dogs are much happier characters when they know their place in the “pack” and who they can look up to for direction. If they are not given the right sort of guidance from the word go, they will show a more dominant side to their character which could result in a dog becoming wilful and unruly therefore that much harder to manage and live with.
The Dogue de Bordeaux is intelligent and they are quick to learn, bearing in mind that this means they can quickly pick up bad habits too. As such, their training and education has to start as early as possible and they need to be handled and managed calmly. Dogues love to please and because they are such loyal characters by nature, they form a very strong bond with their owners which also makes it that much easier to train them.
However, it's essential for puppies to be well socialised from a young age and this has to include them being introduced to new situations, people and other animals for them to grow up to be well-rounded characters in all sorts of different environments.
Although the Dogue de Bordeaux is known to be a gentle and affectionate character, they are not the best choice for families with very young children simply because of their sheer size. With this in mind, they are a good choice for people with older children although any interaction between a dog and the kids has to be supervised to make sure playtime does not get too rough or boisterous. Because the Dogue de Bordeaux develops a strong instinct to protect their families, it's important for them to be well socialised a young age to curb and control this natural deeply embedded instinct.
If a Dogue grows up with other animals and small pets in the household or if they are introduced to them from a young age, they generally get on well with them and this includes family cats. However, a Dogue would think nothing of chasing the neighbour’s cat without a second thought.
The average life expectancy of a Dogue de Bordeaux is between 5 and 8 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
Like so many other breeds, the Dogue is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these active and good looking dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Dogues need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Because the Dogue boasts a short coat, keeping it looking good is low maintenance. However, a weekly brush is necessary to keep any shed hair under control and to make sure a dog's skin is kept in good condition too. Giving their coat a once over using a grooming mitt will add lustre to a Dogue's coat. It's also important to check and clean the folds found on a dog's face on a regular basis to prevent any sores or infections from taking hold.
It's also important to check a dog's ears and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up in a dog's ears, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure when it comes to ear infections.
Even though the Dogue de Bordeaux likes to be kept busy, they do not need as much as exercise as most people think. A good 60 to 80 minutes a day would be enough to keep these large dogs happy, fit and healthy. With this in mind, they prefer to be taken on several walks throughout the day and if possible to roam around a large back garden as often as possible so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be very secure to keep these dogs in bearing in mind that the Dogue is very capable of jumping over fences that are not high enough.
With this said, young Dogue de Bordeaux puppies should not be given too much exercise because their joints and bones are still growing and too much pressure on them could result in causing a dog a few problems later on in their lives. They should not be allowed to jump up or down from furniture nor should they be allowed to go up and down stairs because it puts too much pressure and strain on their growing joints and bones.
If you get a Dogue puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Dogue, you would need to pay anything from £700 to over £1000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Dogue de Bordeaux in northern England would be £64.68 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £125.43 a month (quote as of May 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £60 - £80 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Dogue de Bordeaux and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over a £1200 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Dogue de Bordeaux would be between £120 to £200 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree puppy.
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